Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence

In our award-winning book, Triple Crown Leadership, we reveal five advanced leadership practices for building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization.

The first of these is to recruit, develop, and promote people for both “head and heart.” Head involves the education, knowledge, skills, technical competence, and experience necessary for the work. Heart involves integrity, emotional intelligence, and fit with the desired culture of the organization.

Some leaders struggle with how to probe for heart qualities in interviews. In chapter 2 of Triple Crown Leadership, we list some questions that can be used to discover heart qualities in candidates. They are also available here: Interviewing for Heart.

Recently, Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert, author, and speaker, published a good article in Fast Company on “7 Interview Questions for Measuring Emotional Intelligence.” If you want to hire better for emotional intelligence, then we encourage you to add these to your repertoire of interview questions.

image credit: depositphotos
image credit: depositphotos

Building an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization means hiring, developing, and promoting the right people – those who will act as “stewards” for the culture of the organization (our fourth practice).

We’ve learned that:
•    Head qualities are only the minimum bar to get into a great organization
•    Heart trumps head in choosing people, but clearly both are needed
•    Heart qualities like emotional intelligence need to be built into job descriptions and employment ads
•    Interview panels are useful in screening people for heart qualities

To build an excellent, ethical, and enduring organization, find people with head and head.


Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of and speakers on Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the 2013 International Book Award (Business: General). To get Gregg’s manifesto on Leadership Derailers (and how to avoid them) and free book chapters from Gregg’s books, including Triple Crown Leadership, check out his Free Guide.